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Warning: SPOILERS below for Top Gun: Maverick!
Top Gun: Maverick handles the legacy aspects of the original movie well, particularly the relationship between Maverick and Iceman, which acts as a fitting tribute to Val Kilmer. Tom Cruise returns as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as the lead member of the cast for Top Gun: Maverick. Cruise is joined by a host of new pilots, with Miles Teller playing Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Maverick’s old wingman, Goose. Val Kilmer also returns in a small role as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, who has become a four-star admiral in the Navy since Top Gun.
The sequel to Top Gun features plenty of callbacks to the 1986 original movie but can also be enjoyed by newcomers to the franchise. Top Gun: Maverick centers around Tom Cruise’s Captain Mitchell preparing the U.S. Navy’s best young fighter pilots for a nearly impossible mission. Most of the movie’s emotional weight stems from the relationship between Maverick and Rooster, but Iceman’s appearance is Maverick‘s most poignant moment.
Before its release, there were reasonable concerns that the movie would not live up to the original film because Top Gun Maverick was delayed for so long. Despite that, the early reception to Top Gun: Maverick from critics and general audiences alike has been overwhelmingly positive. Maverick has been praised for successfully introducing several compelling new characters, its surprisingly heartfelt script, and, of course, the adrenaline-fueled aerobatic stunts. As well as that, Maverick is an excellent legacy sequel because of the small but important role that Val Kilmer’s Iceman plays.
Iceman’s Top Gun: Maverick Scene Is One Of The Sequel’s Best
During the first act of Top Gun: Maverick, Iceman has no screen time but his presence is still felt. The admiral’s interactions are either through text messages with Captain Mitchell or with lower-ranking Navy members enforcing his orders. Iceman is the only reason that Maverick is invited back to TOPGUN, so it is crucial that he is in the film. It also makes sense that Iceman isn’t seen that frequently given he is one of the most important Navy officers, but some audiences may have feared that he might not show up given Val Kilmer doesn’t appear in the Maverick trailers in person.
Eventually, Admiral Kazansky does appear on-screen when Captain Mitchell visits his house in the most emotional scene of Top Gun: Maverick. Iceman is the only high-ranking officer who has Maverick’s back, with Ed Harris’ Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain and other Navy commanders against Maverick because they think he’s a reckless flyer. The conversation between the two veterans plays off the dynamic that Iceman is Maverick’s boss, but actually, the relationship between the lifelong friends is what really matters between them.
The conversation is an important cathartic moment for Maverick, who, at that point, is struggling to deal with the recruits, particularly the disinterested Rooster. Iceman’s part in Top Gun: Maverick is different from his antagonistic role in the cult classic Top Gun, but crucial because he gives Maverick the reassurance and confidence he needs to believe that he is the only person who can teach the young pilots how to fly the mission. What also makes the scene great is that despite his health, Iceman can’t help but joke about who the better pilot is between the two, referencing their rivalry from the 1986 movie. Iceman’s death soon after their reunion is naturally a sad moment, and without Val Kilmer’s performance, Maverick would have lost a big part of its emotional weight.
How Top Gun 2’s Iceman Scene Reflects Val Kilmer’s Real Life
In 2015, Val Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer and consequently underwent multiple operations on his trachea. The procedures limited Kilmer’s ability to talk which explains why Iceman doesn’t talk much in Top Gun 2. For most of Iceman’s scene in Top Gun: Maverick he communicates by typing onto a computer screen. In real life, Val Kilmer is able to talk using an artificial voice box, but this is not used in Maverick, although he does speak one line to Captain Mitchell before he goes. In 2021, Kilmer released a documentary about his life and career titled Val, which also shows how he has adapted to life since recovering from cancer.
Why Iceman Dies In Top Gun: Maverick
The death of Iceman is a pivotal moment in Top Gun: Maverick. Jon Hamm’s “Cyclone,” the commander of Naval Air Forces, is openly against Maverick teaching his young pilots how to fly the mission because Tom Cruise’s character is a constant rule breaker. The only reason Maverick had the job was because Iceman kept sticking his neck out behind the scenes to keep him there. Part of the reason why Top Gun: Maverick reviews are so positive is Maverick fall from grace and redemption arc. Losing his last ally means that he has a fall, which he then rises up from.
Without Iceman’s death, Top Gun: Maverick would not have had the same inspirational sequence of Maverick flying the practice route in record time to inspire Rooster, Phoenix, and the rest of the crew. It also led to a change of heart in Cyclone’s mind because as well as bringing Maverick back in, he was also promoted to leader of the mission, rather than just the instructor. Although Maverick would have preferred to have his wingman by his side, Iceman’s death is a necessary step to make everyone else understand and realize Maverick’s greatness.
Why Iceman’s Death In Top Gun 2 Is A Fitting Sendoff For Him
Maverick, which will be available to stream following its cinematic release, is a fitting tribute to Val Kilmer because it satisfyingly concludes the story of the character he is most famous for playing. Kilmer has starred in a long list of high-profile movies, including Tim Burton’s Batman Forever, Ron Howard’s Willow, and Michael Mann’s Heat, but Iceman will forever be the character for which most remember him. His appearance in Top Gun: Maverick was cleverly written and the parallels to Kilmer’s real life help bring his Hollywood career full circle in an elegant and respectful way.
Val Kilmer does not have any upcoming projects planned, but that doesn’t mean he is retiring just yet. In 2021, as well as releasing Val, Kilmer also starred in The Birthday Cake alongside Ewan McGregor, which suggests his desire to continue acting is still there. But if Top Gun: Maverick is Val Kilmer’s last movie then it is a fitting way to end a distinguished career.
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